Sunday, May 19, 2024

Euro Hockey 2023: Belgium men cruise to bronze over Germany

Monchengladbach — These two heavyweights last met in the 2019 semi-finals when Belgium came back from two down to win 4-2 – one of the finest games on record – and then lift the European title in Antwerp.

Four years on, and with an Olympic title in their palmarès, the Red Lions turned the tables by launching a tirade of attacks on world champions Germany in the first half and continuing their assault in the second. But for a superb performance by Alex Stadler in Germany’s goal, Belgium could have run up a considerable score.

As it was, they deservedly took bronze with a 2-0 win and denied the hosts of a medal double following Die Danas’ bronze on Saturday. They will also look back on their semi-final defeat to the Dutch where they had been coasting towards the final.

But Belgium were back to their all-round best and prominent throughout this minor medal clash.

Alex Hendrickx was in teh game early and saw his second PC trapped on the line and cleared by Johannes Grobe. Another brace of corners came midway through the quarter, Hendrickx putting full force into his fourth as Stadler thrust his left arm up to block. Despite the full house, you could hear the thud thanks to the power of Belgium’s PC hitman.

Felix Denayer was also getting in on the act. The captain found himself free on the left and time to launch a reverse. It careered across Stadler’s goal, kissing the crossbar and flying into the crowd at some speed. Luckily no one was hurt, as one spectator took the applause of stopping the ball by holding it up.

In the next phase, Arthur de Sloover was nearly taken out by a wild Victor Wegnez missed swing in the circle. Germany were now seriously under the cosh, as was their circle, while they couldn’t find any bite from their opening two PCs.

But Germany couldn’t hold out for the first quarter. With six seconds left, Hendrickx launched a low hit into the circle and Nelson Onana got his stick down in time to loop past Stadler.

Germany had precious few chances from the PC PIC: Worldsportpics

There was little love lost, too. This was full thrust continental fare. When Mats Grambusch felt the impact of Gauthier Boccard on the edge of the circle and fell backwards, the Belgian protested to the umpire instead of helping him up. 

Stadler’s right glove then saved Germany from going two down, Cedric Charlier miscuing a chop shot well wide. Ninety seconds left of the half and Florent van Aubel nudged home after John-John Dohmen’s cross/shot into the path of Stadler.

Stadler made a double, left-gloved save in the third quarter and then again in the final quarter, his parry out followed up with a strike onto the crossbar.

Stadler was keeping Germany in this one, but was eventually taken off as Die Honamas went with 11 outfielders for the closing stages. Belgium proved a cut above.

Total Hockey

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